Article by: Angelica Chang
Photographs compiled by: Alice Ye
To mark the approaching October break, the annual Filipiniana extravaganza serves as a reminder for students to take some time to appreciate and immerse themselves in the culture of the country they live in. For some, it may be singing along to the afternoon performances of traditional and contemporary Filipino dances, but for many it provides an opportunity to surprise their tastebuds by lechon-ing out in the food stalls! In tribute to this week’s upcoming Filipiniana, here are the top 8 best Filipino street foods to try!
Taho is a popular Filipino snack or breakfast on the go, and is made from a combination of fresh soy beancurd processed to a silk-like texture, syrup from caramelized brown sugar, and boiled sago pearls.
Evident of the international influence on Philippine cuisine, many have traced the origins of taho from the Chinese snack, douha, which consists of tofu pudding processed to a custard-like quality, mixed with sugar syrup. Taho can be purchased from a taho vendor, called the magtataho; they can be found leisurely walking around residential streets, and heard from their cries of, “Tahoooo!” to advertise their product. Junior Alfonso S. claims taho as his favorite street food, saying, “The soft texture of the soybean pairs really well with the spongy consistency of the sago pearls.”
Tip: If you want to get your hands on this bad boy, you better come early to the food stalls in Filipiniana because this one’s a real seller.
The literal translation of “halo-halo” is “mix-mix”, which describes the dessert perfectly, as it is a mixture of various ingredients, such as boiled sweet beans, coconut, sago, gulaman (jelly), fruits, and purple yam, topped with shaved ice and evaporated milk to complete the dish. The unique feature of halo-halo is that you can add or remove ingredients based on your preference, and it is available in almost all restaurants specializing in Philippine cuisine, as well as the local fast food chains including Chowking, and Jollibee. Even junior Jaymee F. likes to mix up her flavors, as she tells the vendors to “substitute the evaporated milk with the juice of the langka (canned jackfruit).”
Originating from Chinese cuisine, fish balls are probably the most popular amongst the array of Filipino street meats. They are made from deep-fried fish paste, and served with three different dipping sauces: spicy, sweet, and sweet/sour. For junior Bianca A., fish balls are her favorite because “it resembles the taste of a more flavored rice cake!”, adding that the “sauce really works well too.”
#4) Dirty Ice-Cream
Dirty ice-cream, otherwise known as sorbetes, is simply ice cream sold by peddling street vendors. The food got its name from the association of the dirty streets where the vendors sell the ice-cream, but don’t worry: it’s completely safe to consume. However, different from normal ice-cream, sorbetes is usually made from coconut milk, and is served with small wafers or bread buns. Traditional flavors offered are mango, queso (cheese), ube, chocolate, and strawberry, and the ‘dirty ice-cream’ cart is always one of the most popular stops at Filipiniana.
Another popular pick amongst locals is kwek-kwek, a boiled quail egg dipped in batter and deep-fried in oil – the Filipino rendition of pseudo-tempura. The dish is usually served with a generous helping of spicy vinegar dipping sauce, and is recommended to be eaten while hot to ensure the crispy texture of the batter coating!
Turon is a fried dessert, and is offered in Urban Chef in our very own Kantina! It is made from banana, which is wrapped in lumpia wrapper and then fried in caramelized sugar. Turon is a popular afternoon snack, as junior Sophia Q. says, “I loved getting it as a snack when I was little after school- it’s sweet and super satisfying, the perfect pick me up after a long day!”
No, this is not the cassette tape- it’s coagulated pork or chicken blood served on a stick! Many people know of barbeque, but Filipinos are extremely frugal with their food so that nothing goes to waste. The question is: how exactly do you grill blood? Vendors combine the blood with salt and pepper, and add in five boiling cups of water into the mixture. The mixture will naturally allow the blood to thicken, and once the water is drained, the coagulated blood can be cut into cubes and grilled with the choice of either soy sauce, ketchup or vinegar sauce.